Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Lifetime of Time

I doubt if this butterfly worries about the life already lived.
He/She lives for the moment and that next taste of the sweet
nectar God gives to His littlest creatures.
I had two sobering occasions occur recently--my oldest child turned 44, and my oldest grandchild turned 15. That makes me at least 50 years old. Sigh.

Okay, okay, I'm older than 50 years old. How much older isn't important. My point is that despite my best efforts, neither my children nor my grandchildren have remained babies. In the case of my son and grandson, they grew up just as they were supposed to and evolved from adorable infants to fine men. Derek is middle-aged (oh, my gosh, I can't believe I just typed that), and Dustin is on the verge of adulthood. From all indications, he too will turn into a fine young man.

I also have two beautiful daughters (both over 40), and in addition to Dustin, I have four other grandsons (13, 9, 9, and 5) and a 5-year-old granddaughter. All of them share the same compassionate, intelligent, and hard-working characteristics as Derek and Dustin. I'm surrounded by incredible people--and they're all younger than me.

How on earth did that happen? Wasn't it just last month that I was the youngest in the office, the baby of the restaurant where I waited tables? Wasn't it last week that I was the youngest office manager in the state's social services system? What happened to those 40 or so years? How did I go from the youngest in just about every situation in which I found myself to being the oldest person in the room?

Well, if I stopped blathering long enough I'd realize that time is what happened. The passage of time--that slow, but inexorable ticking of the clock, second by minute by hour by day until the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months and the months to years. The years? Well, they turned to decades, and eventually, they'll turn into a lifetime.

A lifetime of time. Sounds odd, doesn't it? But that's what life is. Time. God has given us the time to live our lives, and coupled with the gifts He imbues us with, the opportunity to live those lives, to spend all that time in His service. He desires that we become the men and women He intends us to be and to live out our time on earth glorifying our Heavenly Father.

The older I become, the more clearly I see not only His Hand in my life, but the ways in which He wants me to behave, the paths He wants me to take and those He wants me to avoid. Of course, decades of experience helped make my vision clearer, but looking backward at more years already lived than I have before me can have the same sobering effect as a slap across the face with a large, wet fish. I've already lived many more years than I will live during my entire future on this planet. Not everyone can say that, so I'm careful to remember that I'm fortunate to be growing older. Some people never have that chance. Their lives are sometimes over before they really begin--or at least before they gain traction. The fact that God has allowed me to live this many years means He still has something for me to accomplish in His Name.

Now I can either bemoan the years that have passed as if their passing were a bad thing, or I can rejoice that those years happened in the first place--that my children and grandchildren were born and grew into fine human beings. They have their paths to take; I have mine. Just because I started out on my path before theirs began isn't a bad thing. Mine will end before theirs, as well, but that will be because I've accomplished all I was supposed to. They still have things to do, places to go, people to meet and influence, spouses to marry, children to raise, jobs to work at. Lives  are staggered that way for purposes that only God knows fully, but I know one thing. If we were all born at the same time, lived our lives and died at the same time, life would be one big train wreck.

God knows what He's doing. Allowing me to celebrate the birthdays, anniversaries, births, joys, and triumphs of my children and grandchildren is a privilege only He can bestow. How dare I diminish that great blessing by bemoaning the fact they're growing older along with me?

I am blessed beyond comprehension and have joys that defy explanation all because of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank You, Lord.

Until the next time ...

Friday, September 9, 2016

Dropping the Devil's Bonds

It's been ages since I posted, and you'll never guess why! Ready? Here goes: No good reason. None. None at all. I just didn't know what to post and had that "deer in the headlights" look in my brain whenever I realized I hadn't posted in forever. So I just didn't do anything.

Not a very good reason, huh?

I know it's not, so I finally decided to simply blog about why I haven't blogged. I think this is a problem many of us face whether we're writers, moms, dads, employees, bosses, whatever. We don't know what to do next (because Heaven forbid we make a mistake), so we make the worst mistake of all and don't do anything. We're paralyzed by uncertainty, and instead of doing something--anything--we choose to do nothing.

And yes, it's a choice. I chose not writing because I was afraid I'd write something dumb (like this post, perhaps?) and make a fool of myself. How's that for dumb? In my not-so-gallant effort to avoid looking like a dolt, I spent months doing nothing and looking more doltish (doltisher?) by the minute.

But that's all behind me now. I've spent a lot of time lately evaluating why I do or don't do certain things. Most of it boils down to being afraid of looking bad/amateurish/dumb/ignorant/unkind and on and on. This applies to the rest of my life, by the way, not just my writing.

Uncertainty is a tool the devil uses to bind us so we don't do what God created us to do. And he's been binding his evil heart out around me.

That stops now.

Just because I'm not sure what to do about something doesn't mean that what I do choose to do will be wrong. Maybe it'll take me on a journey to what is right. Maybe it'll bomb. But in any event, I'll be actively seeking an answer rather than twiddling my thumbs and giving the devil something to grin about. Confusion, indecision, uncertainty, fear, prudence, whatever you choose to call it or whatever situation you find yourself in that causes any of the above will probably require some action on your part. Yes, some things resolve themselves without our assistance. There's nothing wrong with a "wait and see" attitude unless it's a "wait and see forever because I'm so darned afraid of doing something wrong that I'm tied in knots and basically useless." But if it's clear that action is needed, do your homework, make your best guess, and then take your best shot.

My most recent conundrum has been how to best market my latest novel. Because I couldn't come up with a sure-fire way to become an instant bestselling author, I came up with absolutely nothing. Oh, I tried lots of stuff all right, so much in fact that it all became useless. You can take all the shots you want, but if you don't have a clear target you're shooting blindly. Rather like using a water pistol to put out as forest fire. It doesn't do any harm, but it doesn't do any good either. My mind was filled with ideas and although none of them seemed perfect, some were not so bad. I immediately eliminated what I couldn't afford, which was a good start. But after that, I had no idea what idea was the best idea for me, so I did the worst possible thing. Nothing. If I'd tried some of them back when I first thought of them, I'd have a good idea by now which ones worked and which didn't. As it is, though, I'm left with a brain full of ideas and still no idea which ones will work. The only way to rectify that is to try them out--one at a time, two at a time, it doesn't matter. What matters is that I try. 

I can feel the devil grinding his ugly teeth. His hold on me is lessening; his ropes of indecision and insecurity are loosening. I am almost free of his grimy, slimy bonds, and it feels so good.

So very good.

Until the next time ...

Laughing with the Lord #6

Welcome to Laughing with the Lord #6!  Sometimes I wonder if my purpose in life is to make God chuckle. I do so many ridiculous thi...